Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Latin American grace sightings

Being a cross-cultural God-spy opens up new possibilities for grace sightings. Grace abounds in Latin America. Here are some selected moments from our current trek through Brazil and Bolivia.
--People, maybe God’s greatest vehicle of grace: One of the best parts of my job in PRODOLA is the people we come to know, both students and faculty. I especially enjoyed working with Rafael Vallejo on his dissertation proposal. Rafael is an immigrant from the Philippines to Canada where he now works with Hispanic immigrants in Toronto. He is doing his research project on the involvement of evangelicals in Toronto with immigrants and legal immigration issues. He pastors a Presbyterian church in the city, advocates for social justice, and works in a ministry for the homeless. On the side, he is a registered chef. I am blessed and challenged by his passion for justice, his commitment to following Jesus, and his great sense of humor.
--Latin hospitality: We spent a day and night in Sao Paulo with Jorge and Elisabeth Giron, one of our PRODOLA couples. Their apartment is tiny, but they made room for us. Jorge is Guatemalan and Elisabeth comes from Chile. They are missionaries working with the Church of God in southern Brazil. We spent most of our time together talking and, of course, eating. We worshiped together Brazilian Pentecostal style in one of the local churches Jorge oversees. Their love and welcome are typical of the hospitality that I think is part of the Latin American DNA. Grace abounds.
--The rising sun lighting up the city in La Paz: The hotel where we are currently staying serves breakfast from an 8th floor restaurant with a spectacular view of the city.
--Fresh orange juice and café con leche every morning.
--History seminar: We spent two intensive days with the leadership team of a five-year project for writing the history of the Bolivian Friends Church (INELA). There was a spirit of humility in facing the huge task before us, but also the sense that God was calling us to this work. We sense the need of the church to see how God has been blessing down through the years, to know the story of how his servants have been working with God, and also to recognize the errors and problems, confess our sins and face our future with faith and commitment. We concluded the two day retreat with a time of brokenness, prayer and gratitude.
--Surprise anniversary party: In the afternoon of the second day of the retreat, the team surprised us with a party to celebrate our 45th anniversary. I’m grateful for the grace of a long-lived marriage and for friends who celebrate it with us.
--Good novels on my Kindle: Good books are especially helpful while waiting in airport terminals, and in the evenings after a long day’s work. Among the books I loaded up on the Kindle for this trip, I’ve enjoyed Ralph Beebe’s Cousins at War: A Civil War Novel, and two about Afghanistan: The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N. Murari and And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.
--Good long-distance contact with my grandkids: This includes an email invitation I received from my 10-year-old grandson, Reilly. He told me that if I wanted to correspond with any of his pets, I could use his email address and he would respond from the point of view of the animal. So I had a little exchange with Diggory, Reilly’s dog. Smart mutt. Most things that make me laugh are full of grace.

1 comment:

  1. Please tell Diggory to stop muttering. I can't hear him.